Images courtesy of John Cosmi.
Eight-time U.S. softball singles champion Julian Illingworth won his first U.S. Hardball Singles Championship in his first attempt at the Harvard Club of New York, February 14-16.
Having entered the Open division main draw unseeded, twenty-nine-year-old Illingworth found his footing in the first round defeating William Gaynor 15-8, 15-7, 12-15, 15-6. Two seed Hamed Anvari then met Illingworth (pictured above, right) in the quarterfinals after a first-round bye, and found himself on the receiving end of a three game loss, 15-11, 15-13, 15-8.
Three seed and Squash Doubles Association (SDA) world No. 4 Clive Leach presented Illingworth with a formidable challenge in the semifinals stretching Illingworth, SDA world No. 28, to four games 15-11, 9-15, 15-6, 15-10.
Former PSA world No. 4 and SDA world No. 17 Chris Walker (pictured above, left) weighed in as the top seed of the tournament as the forty-six-year-old recorded two three-game victories on his way to the final. Seeded to meet Walker in the semifinals, four seed Eric Pearson was forced to retire against Matt Domenick in the quarterfinals.
The final between prominent past and present softball singles players translated as such throughout the match with little use of trademark hardball shots such as reverse-corners and three-walls. After winning the first game 15-10, Illingworth found himself down 9-11 in the second game before winning six of the next seven points creating a two game advantage. Walker again led late in the third game 13-11, before Illingworth rallied to win 16-13 in the tie-break clinching the match and title.
In the Men’s 50+ round robin, Tomas Harrity took the honors winning his matches against Steven Kupka and James Austin without dropping a game or conceding ten or more points in a game.
Eric Berger defeated former champion Tefft Smith in a three-game 60+ final, while Henry Steinglass went undefeated in the five-player 70+ round robin. Charles Baker is the 80+ champion with two, three-game victories in the three-player round robin.